Ushushi and Usturoi, Metempsychosis and Transition

prof. Shigemi Inaga 
(International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, Kyoto)

The paper will examine the way jikihitsu or the signature of the artist manifests itself in the process of the metempsychosis and transition. Two key terms will be put forward, namely utsuwa and utsroi. Utsuwa means recipient or vessel, while utsuroi connotes at the same time “replacement”, “displacement”, “duplication”, “transmission” and even “possession” in the psychosomatic sense of the word. Obviously utsuwa shares with utushi its etymology. An individual artist is a vessel, a recipient in which the experiences of the ancestors are in-put and the transition from one generation to another results in a heritage constitution. Metempsychosis or the transmigration of the soul takes place in the process. The signature is a sign of the cumulative effect of this heritage.  The weaving, or silk industry witnesses to this in the manual labour of which it is composed. Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher shared this perception with Lafcadio Hearn, an American writer of Greek-Irish origin, naturalized in Japan. Guided by this spiritual insight, we will reconsider some of the artistic creations in Japan from this viewpoint. In so doing the paper will shed new light on the transcultural transaction and symbiosis between Japan and other countries, with special emphasis on Poland.